Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hawkeye Joins The Big (Little) Leagues

When growing up, my favourite comic book character was Hawkeye. (This may have been an early attempt at trying to be in ‘the cool crowd’, given that the general populace did not know who Hawkeye was until last year’s ‘Avengers’ movie. Strangely enough, my classmates seemed to respond to my shoehorning Hawkeye into all my 4th-grade writing activities with puzzlement rather than seeing it a measure of my coolness.)  Nevertheless, when a new ‘Hawkeye’ series was announced a few months back, even I didn’t put it on my standing order. The archer has never shown himself able to carry off a major ongoing series, and even a bunch of cool, minimalist covers wasn’t enough to convince me that was going to change. With 20 years of collecting behind me, I have to be choosy now about which new 17cm by 26cm titles I will pick to further clog up my living space.

Which is where the Marvel iPhone app comes in – for much the same price as the physical copy (cheaper for older titles) I can clog up my gigabyte allowance instead. I downloaded Hawkeye #1 a few months back and wasn’t overly impressed. But then #’s 2 and 3 got good reviews, so I gave them a go this week and I enjoyed them a lot more. The addition to the title of Kate Bishop, who replaced Clint Barton as Hawkeye when he seemingly ‘died’ a few years back, has given the book a mentor/protégé, old guard/new guard, will they/won’t they type of feel. Writer Matt Fraction and cover and interior artist David Aja have taken the many goofy elements of Hawkeye stories past and given them a 2010’s sheen, such as making the Hawkster’s many trick arrows into highly useful and inventive weapons, and making a lame-o crook like the frickin’ Ringmaster seem less like a bloody useless prat.

But more than that, ‘Hawkeye’ may just be the perfect title for the iPhone age. It’s not big and epic, it’s personable, and Aja’s rectangular panels seem like they made with desktop wallpaper in mind. You can breeze through an issue in 20 minutes and it feels like a 2-dimensional podcast. Then again, maybe I’m just trying to console myself for not picking up the first issue off the stands, and letting it pay off my mortgage.     

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